Breast cancer prevention and treatment options

Posted by Monarch Plastic Surgery

Oct 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM

breast-cancer-statisticsBasic statistics in the United States

  • 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer
  • Of all cancers, 1 in 4 are breast cancer
  • There are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors
  • 180,000 women survive breast cancer annually

Breast cancer prevention

Adopting healthy habits and knowing your risk factors may help reduce your likelihood of developing breast cancer.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times per week
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables — the more the better
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids — walnuts, sardines, ground flax meal, chia seeds, salmon
  • Aim to increase your fiber intake by 10 grams daily
  • Get sufficient amounts of vitamin D — limited sunlight, salmon, tuna, and fortified foods
  • Drink antioxidant-rich green tea and limit alcohol
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke exposure
  • If pregnant, breast feed for a year to 15 months
  • Limit use of combined hormone therapy (estrogen and progesterone) to less than 5 years
  • Know your body, monitor your health, and do your monthly breast self-exams

Breast cancer symptoms

If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor right away for a thorough examination:

  • A lump in the breast
  • A red patch on the breast
  • Changes in breast size or shape
  • Nipple discharge or changes not related to breastfeeding
  • Armpit swelling
  • Thickening, dimpling, or other changes to the skin surface or texture
  • Pain or itching of the breast
  • Lymph node swelling in the armpit or near the collarbone

Breast cancer treatment options

Treatment options vary depending on your overall health, the type and stage of your cancer, and other factors. One or more treatments may be used, including:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgical removal of cancerous tissues
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy and surgery
  • Targeted therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Complementary therapies such as acupuncture
  • Lifestyle modifications – meditation, relaxation, stress management, exercise, healthy diet

Breast cancer is survivable

The earlier your breast cancer is diagnosed and the earlier treatment is started, the more likely you are to survive. After treatment is completed, a new phase of your life begins and you become a survivor. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Survivorship is a process, requiring patience and self-love
  • It is normal to feel fatigued and to experience some memory deficits and difficulty focusing
  • Keep or start healthy habits — eat well, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, and limit alcohol
  • Continue follow-up care and monitor your health
  • If you are struggling, consult your doctor and consider complementary therapies or counseling
  • Talk with your family and loved ones about your needs, concerns, and goals
  • Five years after the end of treatment, survival rates for each stage of cancer are:
    • Stage I: 100%
    • Stage 2: 93%
    • Stage 3: 72%
    • Stage 4: 22%

Breast cancer research is ongoing

Research into the causes and treatments of breast cancer is ongoing with promising results. Some current research includes:

  • Women in early stages of breast cancer may benefit from increased vitamin D
  • Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise appear strongly tied to breast cancer risk
  • New blood tests may detect tumor cells in the blood, but so far it is unclear if the tests are useful in detecting breast cancer
  • New radiation treatments and chemotherapy drugs are may help preserve the breasts while targeting cancer cells
  • Targeted therapies and drugs are being tested to specifically treat certain types of gene mutations that may cause some cancers

Topics: Breast Cancer

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